Incident occurs before U.S. Department of Justice revises legal definition of sexual assault

Ava Rivera

By: Ava Rivera, Contributing Writer

 

An incident on campus on Oct. 21, 2011 involved a male victim being hit by his girlfriend while he drove her from Lot 18 to the St. John’s Town Center.

According to the police report, the suspect got in an argument with the victim while he drove on the North South Road adjacent to Lot 18. The argument became physical when she began punching the right side of his face. He then drove her to the St. John’s Town Center and she got out of the car near Dillard’s.

While the suspect was not charged, the incident was still reported and sent to the state attorney’s office, said UPD Lt. Tammy Oliver.

The state attorney’s office was contacted Oct. 24, 2011. Oliver said the office determined there was no probable cause, the case was exceptionally cleared and a prosecution declaration was signed by the victim.

This incident occurred before the U.S. Department of Justice approved the revision of the definition of rape to include males as victims Jan. 6. According to multiple news sources, Attorney General Eric Holder said the new definition will lead to a more comprehensive reporting of rape in the FBI’s annual compilation of crime statistics.

Jeanetta Mock, victim’s advocate at UNF’s Women’s Center, said she also thinks reporting male sexual assault is important.

“I think that [male sexual assault] goes under-reported,” said Mock. “When we stand back, things keep happening until it escalates into dating violence.”

In the case of dating violence, the victim has the option to press charges or to report the crime for record-keeping purposes, Mock said.

“Any time we get a police report, we reach out to the student,” Mock said. “We automatically call them whether or not they contact us. It’s up to them to come to us.”

Due to student confidentiality laws, Mock would not confirm nor deny if the Women’s Center communicated with the victim from the Oct. 21 incident.

“Everything is confidential and non-judgmental at the Women’s Center,” Mock said.

“It’s hard to prevent domestic violence; it’s such a complex issue, and there are many reasons why it happens,” said Christy Brown, a counselor from the Counseling Center. “We try to educate people that if they are in an abusive relationship, they should leave and not stay.”

Sometimes people stay in abusive relationships and get attached, which makes it harder for the victim to leave, Brown said.

Those that do leave have options here in Jacksonville.

The Hubbard House takes in males and females who have experienced domestic violence.

Nearly 5000 people a year are helped at the Hubbard House; 15 percent are males, according to Hubbard House Chief Executive Officer Ellen Siler.

Out of the 15 percent, or about 750 males, the Hubbard House receives six to eight male victims a year that need shelter.

“It doesn’t matter if you’re a male or female. Our society makes it hard to come forward because we expect men to be macho, tough, not to cry or complain,” Siler said. “It can be difficult to talk about it.”

Siler also had advice for people who question the health of their relationship.

“Look for a relationship where someone respects and values you, whether you’re a male or female,” Siler said. “If you are in a dating relationship, go slowly.”

 

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